First, let me qualify this entire article: I support Gov. Bobby Jindal. He is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life. He is the best politician since Pericles. OK? Satisfied?
Normally, on those rare occasions when my column even hints at a chink in his armor, I get so much hate mail my postman threatens to quit.
Now to the point…
I think Jindal is getting lousy advice. This is not new. I have felt this way for the last couple of years. When he declined to immediately oppose the Legislative pay raise and support the Stelly Tax repeal last year, I was shocked. Then, when he abruptly did an about-face on the pay raise, largely in reaction to the overwhelming public outcry, again, I marked the inconsistency, as did many legislators who felt deceived.
However, this year has been a bit much.
Who told Jindal that following President Obama’s speech (with what all pundits and novices alike have principally shunned as more of a stunt) would be good for his national image? Further, who keeps telling him traveling to other states and holding fund-raisers is a sure-fire way to get re-elected governor? And how can anyone think his draconian health and education cuts will lead anywhere?
Now we turn to more recent events. Jindal, despite his pledge to the contrary, stated he would avoid the entanglements of local politics by not endorsing candidates running for local offices. A good, sound idea.
Instead, Jindal stepped into the State Senate District 16 race between Lee Domingue and Dan Claitor by endorsing the former. The result was stunning: Claitor beat Jindal’s candidate almost two to one. Some have speculated this endorsement was garnered with a $118,500 contribution to Jindal from Domingue. I think that is a bit too cynical.
According to one interview, Jindal said, “In the future there will be times I endorse… I don’t think endorsements win or lose elections. At the end of the day, voters look at the candidates.” So then, why risk political capital if by your own admission it does not help? Again, who gave Jindal this advice? By the way, this district was Jindal’s turf and should have been an easy excursion.
In another race, State Sen. Joe McPherson (42.6 percent), D-Woodworth, and former U.S. Rep. Clyde Holloway (43.5 percent), R-Forest Hill, will face each other in a runoff election to fill out the remaining year of Dale Sittig’s term on the Public Service Commission.
Voters in Central Louisiana and throughout Acadiana will decide on May 2, who sits on the PSC. But, this race could be complicated by the presence of a Jindal endorsement. It would seem Holloway has the clear advantage and has already picked up the nod from third place finisher State Rep. Gil Pinac, R-Crowley, who had almost 14 percent of the vote. On the surface, this appears to be a no-brainer for the governor who needs a success or two heading into a nightmare fiscal session.
Instead, this week Jindal said he has not decided to participate in this race. Allow me to frame this: Holloway is a conservative Republican and may not get the governor’s endorsement. Why? Again, bad advice. Why would Holloway have to worry at all about Jindal’s support? Don’t Democrats endorse Democrats and Republicans endorse Republicans?
I do not think Jindal should get involved in any such race, but if he does, he should support the candidate that fits his conservative stance. This is not to suggest McPherson is liberal or anything other than a good candidate and a qualified candidate for the PSC. But now, if Jindal stays silent, don’t you think people will wonder why? Maybe because he has been supporting McPherson for weeks now and he is in a corner with state Republicans?
There are several other races going on where Jindal may or may not weigh in. Still, this is the kind of political intrigue that drives good people away from running for office or turning out to vote. It is discouraging when things like this happen.
As for me, maybe I will pass the time by playing a little solitaire…
John Sutherlin, PhD, is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Louisiana-Monroe. He may be reached by emailing email@example.com.